gfiles magazine

October 10, 2016

From the Editor

National security is one of the biggest issues of governance. If the security of a nation is lax, the havoc that could be created is unimaginable. So, when a nation elects any Prime Minister, a paramount concern is, can the leader provide security. Post the surgical strikes, Indians are worried; what will happen if there is an India-Pakistan war? I want to clear the mist that India will in no way choose a roadmap that leads to war, though minor surgical operations will keep on hammering Pakistan. India is very much safe and secure, thanks to our brave soldiers and military leadership. If we observe, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is under pressure from the military, the military from Islamic forces, and both are under threat from terrorists. Terrorists are pawns of international forces which use them for their social, political and economic ends within the territory and outside.

The malady of political interference

In the last seven decades, innumerable studies on civil services have been conducted from time to time. They have been read, commented on and forgotten. And now, a new and perhaps more comprehensive study on the civil service has been added to the existing literature, conclusions of which have been drawn from the enormous volume of data generated by several research studies. Sadly, it relates to the IAS only.

Uri Attack : India pulls no punches

On September 18, four Pakistani terrorists carried out with military precision what has come to be viewed as one of the worst terrorist attacks on the Indian Army. They killed 19 army jawans and injured over two dozens of them in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri sector, in the rear office of an Indian Army infantry brigade installation. Since then, India upped its diplomatic offensive against Pakistan in a bid to isolate the country internationally. “We will isolate Pakistan in the whole world and force it into eking out a solitary existence,” thundered Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an outburst of extreme anger.

The cost of warmongering

With these words spoken in the afternoon of September 29, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, Director General Military Operations, summarised what happened across the border like a professional soldier that he is. He added that during counter-terrorist operations, significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those trying to support them. He was emphatic when he said: “the operations aimed at neutralising the terrorists have since ceased. We do not have any plans for continuation of further operations.”

The United Budget of India

Media reports of late have been agog with news about the changes to be made in the Union Budget, inter-alia, with the prospect of the merger of the Railway Budget with the Union Budget. The Cabinet okayed this proposal on September 21, 2016. Apart from the merger of the two budgets which were separately presented till last year, the Cabinet meeting also gave approval to a few other proposals concerning the annual budget making.

IRON ORE PRICES NMDC continues to suffer losses, voluntarily

What happens when a leading mining company, which is majority-owned by the government and also listed on the stock exchanges, deliberately sells its mined output year-after-year at a hefty discount to international benchmarks? Ideally, the company’s trade practices should come under intense scrutiny and a full-scale investigation must be ordered to dig out the extent of loss, both to the State exchequer as well as minority shareholders. This should be followed by a course correction and re-pricing of mined minerals.

KMP Expressway

Subhash vs Abhimanyu
The KMPE project was allotted to KMP Expressway Limited on January 31, 2006. The completion date was fixed as July 29, 2009, with a toll collection period of 20 years and nine months. But the Concessionaire failed to complete the work even by December 2014. The Supreme Court, in its order dated January 30, 2015, directed the State government to award the contract to a new Concessionaire urgently. Subsequen-tly, the Concession Agreement of KMP Expressway Limited was terminated on March 19, 2015.

The Unpardonable Sin

Rahul Baba has had many tragedies in his life, but the major calamity is the family in which he has been born. This happens to be the First Family of the country. He did not choose to be born to Sonia and Rajiv, nor was he prepared to defend his title at an age when his friends were  starting to enjoy life. Anything he says or does makes news. The cameras of the electronic media are eternally focussed on him 24x7.

Understanding self

Since most of the times we completely identify with our mind and thoughts, we fail to observe and be aware of our thinking pattern. The book, Awakening the Thinking Mind: An Inward Journey, traces the reason why we think, behave and react the way we do and how fear still overrules the human psyche. While associating themselves with their own mind and experiences, the readers can explore and investigate various aspects of nature and inner working of the mind. Readers can, in simple ways, learn and experience the ways to calm their mind, especially under stressed and distressed moments.

Jaoon to jaoon kahan?

It is not for journalists to make predictions. Even so, I had made one, and instead of hedging it with ifs and buts as the clever ones do, I had stuck my neck out. “I have just returned from the BJP session in Bombay,” I wrote in a syndicated column, “with one certainty: Atal Behari Vajpayee will, sooner or later, become the country’s Prime Minister. I am not saying he may, I am saying he will. Mine is not a prediction based on the stars, for I am no astrologer. It’s a prediction based on a close hard look at the man and his party. Vajpayee leads a party of the future. Both have blossomed.”

Equities the best option

The market may be looking overvalued from a historical perspective, but the liquidity driven rally has got another boost with the US Fed’s decision to defer the rate hike yet another time. Though no economic pickup is expected for a couple of quarters as yet, the market may continue to drive upwards due to other factors. The crackdown on black money will push liquidity into the white economy and boost consumption, and is also likely to drive investments away from gold and real estate to financial assets. The clearing of balance sheets of public sector banks and emergence of efficient private banks and NBFCs makes the financial system more robust. The thrust on road construction and infrastructure will boost demand for capital and other goods.

The fires within

Everything that we know as physical creation our body, the planet, the universe, the trillions of forms that life has donned is just the mischief of five elements:earth, water, fire, air and ether. With five simple ingredients, what utter magic! This is the sheer brilliance of creation. In the yogic system, it is understood that with mastery over these five elements, you take charge not only of your health, well-being and prosperity, you are also offered a key to the deepest mysteries of the universe.

Silent Ram Jethmalani

video poses problems
Once upon a time, Rajni Patel, President Bombay Pradesh Congress Committee, Justice YV Chandrachud and Ram Jethmalani were considered the Trimurti in Mumbai. Those in the know recall the trio’s influence and how they virtually ruled Bombay. The 93-year-old eminent lawyer Jethmalani has travelled a long way since. He is a fiery speaker within and outside the courts. People are scared for his frank opinions. Jethmalani speaks his mind without worrying about the consequences. As a result, he has been in trouble many times. Recently, there was a video in circulation on social media, in which he explains the fight against the black money. He alleged that friendly countries are eager to disclose the names of those Indians who have stacked black money abroad, but nobody in the government is ready to ask for the list. During a conversation with journalists, he condemned the action of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in such a language, which is not printable. The video went viral. Sources disclosed, the video was seen by the Prime Minister’s Office and the PMO got into action as the Jethmalani’s language was not tolerable. The job was assigned to one of the senior most functionaries of the BJP. The top leader met Ram Jethmalani at his residence and conveyed to him the seriousness of the matter. The grapevine is that a meeting was arranged between the PM and Jethmalani. It is reported that Jethmalani is in silent mode since he has met the Prime Minister. Someone aptly said, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others.

Kingdom of cheats!

tarnishing the golden jubilee?
A few days ago, the Haryana government held the Golden Jubilee’s logo release function at Gurugram with great pomp and show. The state government was in such a hurry that it even did not check the antecedents of Kingdom of Dreams, Gurugram, where the logo was unveiled. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will formally launch the celebrations on November 1, 2016 on 50 years of Haryana Formation Day at Gurugram. However, it is reported that Gurugram’s most popular attraction, Kingdom of Dreams is facing heat from the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for non-payment of lease fees approximately worth more than Rs 30 crore over the past four years. Nobody knows who suggested that the festivities be organised at Kingdom of Dreams. Surprisingly, the State Department of Sports is the nodal agency for organising the Golden Jubilee Celebrations but the Minister Anil Vij came to know about the celebrations on the same day and did not attend the function. The logo unveiling was fabulous but the management of the function was pathetic. Though guests were requested to join for lunch but after the entry of the Chief Minister and other dignitaries in the lunch area, there was utter chaos. The private bouncers of the Kingdom of Dreams started checking for the invitation card which most of the guests did not carry. Gurugram SDM Sushil Sarwan was himself clearing the entry of some dignitaries. The Kingdom of Dreams project was started during the Bhupinder Singh Hooda regime. Objections were raised at that time also, on how and why the land had been allotted on such nominal rates. After the Manohar Lal Khattar government came to power, the demand for an enquiry has been raised again.!

Rafale Deal

who is benefitting?
It took 15 years to discuss the deal with Dassault Rafale. Then, overnight, India concluded an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of €7.87 billion, the first fighter aircraft deal since the purchase of Sukhois from Russia in the late 1990s. Government sources claim that there is no question of any middleman or a broker. History indicates whenever the deals are investigated, there were brokers and middleman in every defence deal. One has to study the context in which such deals are clinched. The Rafale deal was  finalised just after the Uri attack. After the 26/11 attack on Mumbai, billions of dollars of search and surveillance equipment was  purchased by both business houses and government. Nowadays, there is more finesse and it is impossible to pinpoint the brokers.  If we turn to the gfiles archives, it carried a cover story in March 2012 titled, “India’s gift to Sarkozy”
( The story carried a box in which gfiles stated, “It is significant that hard on the heels of the signing of the agreement between RIL (Reliance Industries Limited) and Dassault Aviation, an RIL spokesman said “the objective of the MoU is to identify areas where both the companies can work together in the defence sector.” The RIL spokesperson said that while there has been no commitment on any kind of investment or joint venture, teams from both the companies will sit together to chalk out strategic opportunities. The outcome will depend on the talks and only after the final agreement between Dassault and the Government is signed for the MMRCA, he said, refusing to divulge details on who will lead negotiations from the RIL side. The government has now signed the Rafale deal! 

Maal kisi ka, kamaal kisi ka

kishore masterminds congress strategy

The newly appointed strategist of the Congress party, Prashant Kishore, approached Rahul Gandhi with a `72-crore mega-plan for Uttar Pradesh. Rahul told him the budged was too high and that he should bring it down. Sources say the plan was reviewed and the budget brought down to `32 crore. Rahul is learnt to have told Kishore that the Congress was struggling with a paucity of funds-no industrial house is coming forward to support  them, and thus the budget should be cut down to `8-10 crore. Sources informed that Kishore strategises in a different way and told Rahul that he didn’t want money from the Congress and that he would arrange for the money himself. Kishore then met Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and told him that if he wanted to emerge as the prime ministerial candidate in the 2019 elections, the Congress will play a big part in it. Kishore said he would speak to Rahul about lending him support. Nitish Kumar seems to understand what is in Kishore’s mind. Apparently, things are working out and Kishore is on the way to get money. A perfect case for maal kisi ka aur kamaal kisi ka (using somebody’s money to another’s benefit).

Planning for buses?

What were Ministers and Secretaries of State Transport Departments doing in Hanover, the largest city of Germany, in the last week of September 2016? They all were participants at the transport fair by the International Association of Automotive Industry (IAA).  This is one of the biggest fairs in the world for sellers and buyers of big buses, trucks and all modern automotive road transport vehicles. India has approximately 1.75 crore private and public transport buses. Volvo, MAN and Daimler are the only foreign companies which have started manufacturing buses in India. The government plans to convert about 1.5 lakh diesel buses run by state transport corporations into electric buses to cut down on the huge Rs 8 lakh crore crude import bill and  check pollution. Naturally, the IAA fair is the best place to see the finest and latest buses for public transport system. gfiles representative attended the IAA fair and interacted with many ministers, secretaries who were baffled to see an automobile fair of such scale. Our reporter told us that big companies’ CEOs were seen anxious to meet the senior secretaries. India has to manufacture or import approximately five lakh buses by 2032 as per the plan submitted to the Planning Commission by a committee of senior secretaries on transport. A good quality bus costs Rs 85 lakh at the least.  A senior secretary was heard saying, “What a pity, India can’t make a good quality bus and we are talking about Make in India”.

Taking NITI Aayog seriously

The National Institution for Transforming India, NITI Aayog, is gearing up for imparting training to IAS officers about its purpose as even young IAS officers are not taking the NITI Aayog seriously. As many as, 37 of them were found missing in a session with NITI Aayog member and economist Bibek Debroy last month. The absentees were asked to show-cause but the DoPT did not want to take any more chances for a session addressed by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya. In an unusual office memorandum dated September 12, the DoPT asked assistant secretaries posted in various Central government ministries and departments that “they have to attend the aforesaid function without fail.” Not just that, they were asked to be present in the function “on time”, again highlighting… the words “on time” in bold letters to draw their attention. In fact, the Cabinet Secretariat too swung into action as it postponed a pre-scheduled meeting fixed between 2014 officers attached to the Ministries of Commerce, DIPP, MSME and Labour and Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha, so as to facilitate the participation of the young officers in Panagariya session. The topic of the session was “Indian economy — wherefrom and whereto”.  In fact, the session with Debroy, in which many were absent, was held on September 9 so as to assist the officers, all belonging to the 2014 batch, to get insights into the socio-economic and developmental challenges facing the nation, and strategic policy framework thereof. The officers have begun their three-month-period as assistant secretaries with effect from August 1, 2016. While appointing the officers as assistant secretary, DoPT in an office memorandum dated June 5, 2016 said that they were not allowed to go on leave during this three-month period.

The High Commissioner to UK

The UK High Commission is very important to India and generally a political personality is appointed as the High Commissioner. But now the Ministry of External Affairs has decided to send senior diplomats. Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, 1981 batch Indian Foreign Service officer and present High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, will be India’s new High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in place of Navtej Sarna who is proceeding towards Washington DC after being appointed as India’s envoy to US. Sinha, 58, got into the foreign service in his very first attempt. He actually wanted to join the Army but got attracted to diplomacy in high school and college.  He has been High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka since June 2013.  Between 2009 and 2013, Sinha served as Additional Secretary in the MEA, heading the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran division of MEA. Prior to that, Sinha was India’s Ambassador to Venezuela (2007 to 2009), Consul General of India in Dubai (2003 to 2006) and Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission in Abu Dhabi (UAE) (2002 to 2003). During 1998 to 2002, Sinha was Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of India in United Nations, handling issues such as peace keeping, de-colonisation and most importantly, UN Security Council reforms.  In the 1990s, he had a six-year-long innings with Pakistan (as deputy secretary-Pakistan in MEA and then Counsellor, heading the political section in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. As a young IFS officer, Sinha worked in India’s missions in Milan, Riyadh and Cairo. Hailing from Bihar, Sinha did his schooling both in Chesham (UK) and then at St. Michael’s High School, Patna.  He did his graduation in history from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and MA from the University of Delhi.

IPS officer’s appointment

The upmanship between IAS and IPS is an old story among civil servants. The Haryana Government’s decision to post 1990-batch IPS officer Shatrujeet Singh Kapoor as Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam and Chairman of the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam appears to have stirred up a hornet’s nest in the state bureaucracy. The IAS officers termed it as the fall of yet another bastion to the police and it is learnt that the Association of Haryana IAS officers is likely to take up the matter with the government soon. Sources, however, said that the IAS officers have no reason to rancour since the CMD’s position is not among one of their 112 cadre posts. The posting of the IPS officers on non-cadre posts started with   the commissionerate system introduced in the previous Congress government in Ambala-Panchkula, Gurgaon and Faridabad. This was seen as the first indication that the IPS lobby was trying to broaden its area of influence. The IAS association reportedly feels that it’s not a question of an appointment of an individual; the issue is that IPS officers have no administrative experience and do not understand the system as they are basically trained to maintain law and order.  There is another school of thought, which has been ignored by the state, that the electricity department is purely technical and the post should go to the seniormost engineer. IAS officers are of the opinion that if the government wants to encourage interface between the services, let IAS officers be given charge of the vigilance department. The real crux is not the appointment but the feeling that officers who had been ruling in the Bhupinder Singh Hooda regime are once again making inroads. A tweet in reaction to the appointment of Ashok Khemka, an IAS officer who blew the whistle during the Hooda regime, read: “A government officer who was, is or intends to be corrupt knows where and how to obtain patronage for a choice posting”.